PTI claims Boxing dead
September 14, 2013
Want to raise passion among combat sport fans? Advise the world the death of a sport.
This happened with ESPN Pardon The Interruption recently as Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, the Stadler and Waldorf of the network talking heads decried that boxing was dead. Certainly, a part of this proclamation was to ignite a fire. It certainly drew the ire of ESPN’s own boxing writer Dan Rafael. On Friday, the two pondered whether a Mayweather win or a Canelo win would be good for the sport.
The two questioned that if Canelo won it would provide an immediate rematch with Mayweather which would regain boxing’s momentum as more people would get to know Canelo (and get behind the 23 year old) for an inevitable Cinco de Mayo redux. A Mayweather win would mean that the 36 year old would continue the Money train and handpick another fighter for the third of six fights on his Showtime contract. Its a sign of dominance of a sport that is rarely seen.
Personally, I like Kornheiser and Wilbon despite not agreeing with everything they might opine. Certainly, they aren’t fans of MMA, but I respect their opinions with the exception of Wilbon’s rudderless following of NBA protocol during its season.
But the PTI guys suggest that the sport is dead because its their belief that “The One” is just that – the one. There are no longer multiple big fights in a year. There is just a singular event that gets the fight fans revved up for a night. Moreover, there aren’t too many household names in boxing. Perhaps the introduction of a new name like Canelo will get more fans to take notice.
But, Kornheiser and Wilbon may be wrong. According to a survey in May, boxing is still popular among 30-44 year olds as well as the Spanish/Hispanic demographic. This is due to the fact that the older generation grew up with boxing on free television. As for the Spanish/Hispanic demographic, boxing stars of that ethnicity are more prevalent. Juan Manuel Marquez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. are prime examples. One need only think of Chavez, Jr and the Argentine Sergio Martinez fight from last year to recognize the nationalistic pride for country within the sport.
This year, the undercard of “The One” will feature Danny Garcia versus another Argentine Lucas Matthysse in a matchup that may have fight fans in their seats a little earlier than normal.
But if you are thinking about reasons why the sport is dying you may look to issues such a pay. While many boxers are compensated better than many MMA fighters, the problem of pay is an issue not just limited to MMA. Thus, fixes within the sport must be addressed.
The issue of corruption has always been a theme simmering under the surface of the sport. The Muhammad Ali Act was put into place to protect fighters. However, few fighters have taken advantage of the protections of the act and no fighters have prevailed in a lawsuit under the Act. The expense of litigation is one of the main factors that fighters do not utilize the Act. A recent law article in the Sports Lawyers Journal proposed that the Act be modified to allow the fighters to arbitrate their issues with promoters which would be less expensive and potentially promote more fighters to speak up if they feel wronged.
Then, there are the issues of performance enhancing drugs, the alphabet soup of sanctioning bodies and the Golden Boy-Top Rank feud which will refuse to put together fights. There’s a lot to clean up. But, no sport is perfect. Of course, no one is suggesting other sports are dead.
Boxing is not dead. But, will most of us be able to see it should be the question. Last year, it returned to network television on both NBC and CBS and did well ratings-wise. NBC Sports Network’s quarterly showings of boxing events have had decent showings as well. On the other hand, FS1’s Golden Boy offerings have not done well in the ratings although it may be too soon to tell. The recent signing of boxers by Showtime has developed a rivalry with HBO. The issue for consumers is whether its worth spending money on the premium channels to watch the fights the networks provide. If you are not fans of “Homeland” or “Boardwalk Empire”, would you really want to spend an extra $30 on your cable bill just to see boxing?
Saturday’s PPV event will remind the sporting world that boxing is a spectacle and if more people were exposed to its fighters, it might regain the recognition it once had.